Memoir of Wartime Espionage Published in English
Secret War, by Rigas Rigopoulos,
details the activities of Service 5-16-5, an undercover operation which helped sabotage the Nazi occupation of Greece and aided the Allied war effort. The group was founded and led by Rigopoulos.
The English version of his memoir is now available from Turner Publishing.
Among the 5-16-5 operatives was a young Greek lawyer, Alexander Kairis, who worked within German headquarters. Enduring the rejection of friends who considered him a Nazi collaborator, Kairis passed documents from the German secret archives to other group members, who relayed the information in them to the Allies via radio.
That information helped the Allies sink 55 ships, damage Nazi fortifications, undertake other acts of sabotage, and avoid mine fields. Kairis and several other members of 5-16-5 were eventually caught and executed.
Although surviving 5-16-5 members initially agreed to keep the story to themselves, Rigopoulos decided to come forth with his memoir to set the record straight and correct inaccuracies and distortions which had crept into articles and books.
Nicholas Gage, the author of Eleni and Greek Fire: The Story of Maria Callas and Aristotle Onassis, has hailed Rigopoulos' book as "a powerful story of courage, sacrifice and betrayal that makes compelling, and at times overwhelming, reading."
Professor André Gerolymatos, who chairs the Hellenic Studies department at Simon Fraser University, describes it as a "rare, first-person insight into the clandestine world of covert operations."
"For the historian, the occasional anachronisms of language and unfashionable patriotic sentiment are useful in understanding the motivation of men such as Rigopoulos and why they chose the covert war in the cities rather joining the partisans in the mountains. Rigopoulos represents a significant element of young Greeks who were less concerned with ideology and more with fighting the Axis," Gerolymatos observes.
The book, which won an Award from the Academy of Athens, is dedicated to Alexander Kairis and the five other members of the organization who were killed by the Gestapo. For more information, visit http://www.cs.uml.edu/secretwar/